Date: Thursday, December 29, 2005 @ 20:54:54 GMT
Topic: General

[OT but fascinating...] Praised as the Thomas Edison of the 21st century, Ray Kurzweil was selected as one of "16 revolutionaries who made America," along with the great inventors of the past two centuries.

Forbes magazine called him "the ultimate thinking machine" and The Wall Street Journal dubbed him "the restless genius." Kurzweil is in the National Inventors Hall of Fame, With 12 honorary doctorates and the world's largest prize for innovation - the $500,000 Lemelson-MIT award. Kurzweil, now 57, published what is arguably the most blogged-about book of 2005, a 640-page blockbuster: "The Singularity Is Near," a road map to "a unique event with singular implications," or some form of immortality for those younger than 50 today.

...There is a growing abyss between the economic, scientific and technological knowledge of the masses and their representatives on the one hand, and, on the other, the knowledge that is required to make logical, rational and moral decisions...

Burwell's latest futuristic tome is the sequel to his last bestseller, "The Age of Spiritual Machines: When Computers Exceed Human Intelligence," which posited that the ever-accelerating rate of technological change would lead to computers that would rival the full range of human intelligence. He now takes his readers to the next step in this inexorable evolutionary process: the fusion of human brain and machine. Thus, "the knowledge and skills embedded in our brains will merge with the vastly greater capacity, speed and knowledge-sharing ability of our own creations."

The event Kurzweil envisages - the "singularity" - is when technological change becomes so rapid and profound that our bodies and brains merge with our machines. Singularity depicts what life will be like after the brain-machine fusion takes place and our experiences shift from real reality to virtual reality.

This moment that Kurzweil sees coming 20 years hence is when our intelligence becomes non-biological and trillions of times more powerful than unaided human intelligence. What this will mean for humanity is that aging can be reversed, pollution eradicated, hunger solved and our bodies and the environment transformed by nanotechnology that will also overcome the limitations of biology - and death.

Kurzweil takes human evolution far beyond today's most optimistic forecasts. These hold that anyone born today will live to be 130 and productive to 110, and those born in the 22nd century will live to 250. The glass-half-full-and-filling geomancers of the human genome research world can perceive "immortality" in the 23rd century. Kurzweil's sees the same evolution achieving a similar breakthrough for the children and grandchildren of the post-World War II baby boomers.

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